Nokia has hinted at a sale of its HERE mapping and location unit since April, when it announced its merger with Alcatel-Lucent and a strategic review of HERE. The rumors at the time pegged Uber and unnamed German carmakers to be interested in the acquisition, then were more substantiated last month when Bloomberg revealed that the trio of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz were the most likely candidates.
That information proved out to be true, even down to the suggested sale price: 2.5 Billion Euros (around $2.74 Billion), which is way less than what Nokia paid when it bought HERE's grandparent NAVTEQ for $8.1 Billion in 2008. The sale also includes an added 300 Million Euros in liabilities and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, after which each of the 3 companies will own an equal stake in the business.
The deal doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. HERE has been headquartered in Germany for years and has been collaborating with the country's carmakers like BMW for a while now to be part of their navigation system. Being officially owned by them, HERE will be safe from falling in the hands of Silicon Valley incumbents and will help the 3 German companies in their future challenge of building connected and self-driving cars that can calculate re-routing in case of accidents or jams, detect collisions, and be all around smart on the road.
Not much is clear about the consumer-facing side of HERE's operations (ie its Android and iOS apps), which is admittedly smaller than its carmaker sales business, but the trio seem intent on keeping HERE an "independ[ent] central service for all vehicle manufacturers." Take that for what it is. However, if the HERE-BMW integration we saw at CES 2015 is any example, we should expect at least some compatibility with our Android devices, which is better than BMW or Mercedes-Benz' current situation as Apple CarPlay-only cars.
HERE's blog has shared the news and further detailed the implications of this deal. Among them is an explanation that the service's consumer offering is intricately and critically entwined with its automotive business. So we can all rest assured that, at least in the foreseeable future, HERE maps' mobile apps aren't going anywhere.
Image source: AutoEvolution